Nurses should speak up when they're underrepresented on hospital boards, Curran says. She points out that the ratio of nurses to physicians on hospital boards is incredibly skewed when compared to the ratio of physicians to nurses who work in hospitals. Only a very, very small percentage of hospital board members are nurses, yet the majority of the workforce consists of nurses.
"I really believe nurses need to be on board for the sake of the patients as well as the sake of the other caregivers, but I don't see if happening," Curran says. "Who knows how the place runs on Christmas Eve? Nurses." Why wouldn't you want nurses who literally run the place on the board, she asks?
Although hospital executives and board members should work to inject a new and critical perspective into the good-old-boy network and make a conscious effort to get more nurses on their boards, Curran says nurses should take the initiative here and advocate for themselves, too.
She tells chief nurses to get in front of CEOs and tell them they need a nurse on the board. Many times they'll get an "oh yeah" kind of response from the current board members. As in, "oh yeah, I never thought of that."